Q. You reject the idea that your lyrics were at all whimsical in Felt, don’t you?
A. The lyrics are pretentious, but they’re knowingly so. I wanted to introduce a poetic vision into it. I thought poetic lyrics were up there: Horses, Richard Hell, Tom Verlaine. I wanted to bring something like that, but with my own Birmingham aesthetic –I didn’t want to copy anyone. And I had a funny way with words. I started writing poems when I was very young – I had 17 of these poems and they had lines in them like “Crumbling the antiseptic beauty” and stuff like that, those were the kind of poems I wrote. So it was easy to take the way I wrote poems and put it into lyrics, it was a natural thing to do.
You’re living in a little terraced house with no money, money problems, a gambling father, a horrible world you can’t bear and you’re just dying to get out of it. People around you, you can’t bear. You felt on your own all the time – you wanted to escape into a different world, the world of words. It was very different to the way I lived, having jobs in warehouses and factories. I didn’t want to write about drudgery of everyday life.
Q. Is it about not letting them down, young people?
A. I love kids, young people who have ideals. Something happens when you get to a certain age, people get married, have kids, and move away from music, their whole artistic vision goes down the drain. I see it all the time, and it saddens me. It always happens, now it’s happening to my generation. I get it, it’s life changing, but they lose the naïve innocence, the seriousness of music – it doesn’t seem serious to them any more. I think I’m trying to prove you can get older and still have the same convictions you had when you were 15 or 16. Maybe that kid I’m talking about is me.